There actually is a parallel to the parable of the talents that we have slated for this Sunday. It is called the parable of the pounds, or minas. It can be found in Luke 19:11-27.
It does not appear in the three-year lectionary. When you read it, below, you will see why. If the only Bible readings you hear are the ones read in church, you may have never heard this story before.
11 While they were listening to this, he went on to tell them a parable, because he was near Jerusalem and the people thought that the kingdom of God was going to appear at once. 12 He said: “A man of noble birth went to a distant country to have himself appointed king and then to return. 13 So he called ten of his servants and gave them ten minas.‘Put this money to work,’ he said, ‘until I come back.’
14 “But his subjects hated him and sent a delegation after him to say, ‘We don’t want this man to be our king.’
15 “He was made king, however, and returned home. Then he sent for the servants to whom he had given the money, in order to find out what they had gained with it.
16 “The first one came and said, ‘Sir, your mina has earned ten more.’
17 “‘Well done, my good servant!’ his master replied. ‘Because you have been trustworthy in a very small matter, take charge of ten cities.’
18 “The second came and said, ‘Sir, your mina has earned five more.’
19 “His master answered, ‘You take charge of five cities.’
20 “Then another servant came and said, ‘Sir, here is your mina; I have kept it laid away in a piece of cloth. 21 I was afraid of you, because you are a hard man. You take out what you did not put in and reap what you did not sow.’
22 “His master replied, ‘I will judge you by your own words, you wicked servant! You knew, did you, that I am a hard man, taking out what I did not put in, and reaping what I did not sow? 23 Why then didn’t you put my money on deposit, so that when I came back, I could have collected it with interest?’
24 “Then he said to those standing by, ‘Take his mina away from him and give it to the one who has ten minas.’
25 “‘Sir,’ they said, ‘he already has ten!’
26 “He replied, ‘I tell you that to everyone who has, more will be given, but as for the one who has nothing, even what they have will be taken away. 27 But those enemies of mine who did not want me to be king over them—bring them here and kill them in front of me.’”
But compare this to the parable of the wicked tenants. The landowner sends his own son, and the tenants don’t like him. They don’t want him to be king. They beat him, throw him out of the vineyard and they kill him. Then Jesus says, “So, what do you think the landowner will do to these wicked tenants, these wicked slaves? Perhaps this is one of many stories told to interpret the slaughter that took place with the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD.
This would lean towards my second interpretation of the talents, namely, that the talents are not simply our gifts to be used for God’s glory, which might be a fair interpretation, but rather in these stories it’s intended to refer to the law, the covenants and all aspects of religion which the religious leaders of Jesus’ day have mismanaged.
Oh, this makes me remember that I have not yet posted my lectionary blog for this coming Sunday on this blog. Just a reminder that that the lectionary post gets e-mailed out to Gulf Coast leaders every Sunday at one o’clock. If you would like to receive them, you can go to GulfCoastSynod.org & sign up for the leaders’ list.